AIKEN - A family of three was found dead inside a south Aiken home Thursday after police responded to a 911 call stating a burglary was in progress.
The house at 114 Travellers Lane was surrounded by police cars about 3:30 p.m. - just as many parents were returning home after picking up their children from school.
Inside the residence police found the bodies of Bobby DuBose, 40, Frances DuBose, 49, and Brandon DuBose, a sixth-grader at Kennedy Middle School, Aiken County Deputy Coroner Tim Carlton said.
Mr. Carlton said the boy was 12. Friends said Brandon turned 13 in December.
Aiken County Coroner Sue Townsend said she was treating the scene as a homicide, with the possibility that it was a murder-suicide.
The emergency call was made at 3:22 p.m. by an older man, authorities said.
The beige vinyl-sided home sits in the Sandstone subdivision behind the Aiken Mall.
About an hour into the investigation, the school bus on which Brandon would have traveled stopped at the corner of Travellers Lane and Bedford Place. Brandon's friends say he was not at school all day.
Neighborhood parents rushed to the bus to find their own children.
Throughout the evening, parents kept their children indoors as many tried to explain what had happened.
"We live in a nice, quiet, sedate neighborhood, and you don't know what is going on," said Clyde Hicks, 75, grandmother of one of Brandon's schoolmates, Chelsea Gillum.
Shocked crowds gathered in the neighborhood, looking for information.
"Nothing like this has ever happened," said neighbor Carolyn Tyler, who watched from inside her home as police took photographs of the crime scene. "I want to get an answer to what happened."
Mrs. Townsend would not confirm how the DuBoses were killed, but initial police accounts indicated three people had been shot at the home.
Brandon's friends described him as funny and easy-going. Another of Brandon's friends, Stephanie Biddle, who lives nearby on Raintree Court, first met Brandon at Chukker Creek Elementary last year.
The pair often talked via walkie talkie.
"He would tell me if he's getting ready to come out and play," Stephanie said.
Chelsea remembered Brandon as respectful to his parents, calling his stepmother Miss Frances. She also said he loved to joke.
"He'd play make-believe a lot," Chelsea said. "We would be cooking, and he'd say, 'We'll be right back to Cooking with Brandon."'
Not much is known about Brandon's parents.
Jacob's mother, Kathy Rosser, said Mrs. DuBose worked as a hair stylist at the Mattie C. Hall Health Care Center in Aiken.
Mr. DuBose was a former employee with SCE&G before he became disabled, Mrs. Rosser said.
Mrs. Rosser said her family often invited the DuBoses to South Aiken Church of God. Mrs. DuBose attended the most, she said.
Her son Jacob said the DuBoses were planning to soon return to the Columbia area from where they had moved about two years ago.
The DuBose family apparently had been renting the home, but it's not clear for how long.
"We're all kind of standing around, talking about it, getting information word of mouth," said neighbor Brian Holdridge.
Mr. Holdridge said the boy sometimes came over to play basketball with his 13-year-old son and two other neighborhood children.
"I don't even know the parents," he said. "The only one we ever saw was the boy. He never seemed to have a bad attitude or a problem, so it was quite a surprise."